Are you tired of coin-flipping carry vs carry match-ups in the toplane only to lose lane and not be able to contribute later in the game? I’ve got just the solution for you. These high-tier meatball champions will soak all the damage you throw at them, dish out enough CC they might even have a place in the support role, and will never be irrelevant late game.
No more typing in the post-game chat “gg win lane, lose the game” – now you can become a weakside toplaner who loses gracefully while your jungler and other allies can influence the rest of the map.
1. Shen, The Eye of Twilight
Shen will always be a good solo-queue champion, but right now he’s a great solo-queue champion. Shen’s ultimate ability R – Stand United allows him to teleport to an allied champion after channeling for 3 seconds, granting the ally a shield based on the allies missing health. Unorganized solo-queue teams often find themselves devastated by the numbers disadvantage, and Shen’s E – Shadow Dash allows him to dash through enemy champions, allowing his allies to clean up kills against outnumbered and unprepared enemies.
While his kit is potent, that’s certainly not the only reason he’s currently so powerful though. In patch 12.1 Riot has made substantial changes to the teleport summoner skill:
(Updated) Teleport cooldown adjusted from 420-210 seconds (based on level) to 360 seconds at all levels
(New) Unleashed Teleport: Teleport can only be used on allied towers. Once tower plating falls at 14 minutes, Teleport transforms into Unleashed Teleport, which can target allied towers, minions, wards, and certain allied constructs (same as Season 2021 Teleport)
(New) Unleashed Teleport cooldown: 240 seconds
These changes mean that before the opposing toplaner has unlocked Unleashed Teleport, you’ll be able to use Stand United to cross the map without any fear of the enemy teleporting onto the wave next to you and turning the fight into a 3v3. What has been unfortunate for other toplaners has been a blessing for The Eye of Twilight, and we’ll have to see how these teleport changes develop the toplane metagame as the split goes on.
Shen is also in a place that most other high-win rate toplaners don’t counter him by any means, so he’s seldom in high-pressure counter-picked situations. With some good wave management, you can Stand United across the map, secure some kills, get a recall and walk back to the lane before other slow waveclear toplaners like Tahm Kench or Nasus have made much of an impact at all.
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2. Tahm Kench, The River King
Tahm Kench has been steadily growing in popularity since his kit was reworked in 11.13 as players have learned the power of The River King’s new kit. No longer a meta support, Tahm has been pushed into the top lane ever since his Devour was changed to his ultimate ability. Q – Tongue Lash now heals Tahm Kench 6-10% of his missing health, W – Abyssal Dive (inspired from his previous ultimate, Abyssal Voyage) now allows him to move to a target area, knock up any enemy champions above him when he resurfaces, and stuns them for 1 second, and his ultimate has been changed to R – Devour which functions the same as it previously did, albeit on a much longer cooldown.
With the healing from Tongue Lash, the ability to absorb damage with his E,
- E – Thick Skin
Passive: Damage taken while this ability is inactive is converted to gray health, up to a max of [+300% max]. If allowed to decay, some of it is regenerated as health, increased to [+10% max] per 0.264 seconds.
- Active: Convert all of your gray health into a shield that lasts 2.5 seconds.
As well as stronger 1v1 combat ability with his W, Tahm Kench has become more able to stand on his own than previous iterations of his kit.
With huge healing, the ability to shrug off substantial damage, and crowd control abilities on his W, Tahm Kench is a champion that laughs in the face of opposing toplaners. Barring hard-counters like Vayne, few champs can do anything to The River King that he can’t just heal back from – all while he provides a solid frontline for his team and valuable utility through Devour.
There are some downsides though, Tahm is facing a 19.7% ban rate considering how strong he is – you might not even get to play him if you queue up. You’ll also have to get your easy LP while it lasts as Riot is currently testing changes on the PBE to move him back to the support role.
3. Nasus, The Curator Of The Sands
Nasus is, for better or for worse, functionally the same champion he’s always been. An 11.19 buff has, however, chained his most iconic ability Q – Siphoning Strike to now allow him to proc spell effects which synergize extremely well with his passive lifesteal and the Spellblade effect of Divine Sunderer. This allows Nasus to have sustain even more effectively, allowing him to punish longer drawn-out trades and skirmishes even more than he was previously able to.
Between the 11.19 buff and the other current champions who are strong in the top-lane, Nasus finds himself in a position where he can scale into the late game relatively easily compared to metas of the past. Nasus has a good matchup into Poppy, and Nasus vs other tanks with little kill threat means a lane where Nasus can become an absolute menace stacking his siphoning strike while the enemy jungler is either forced to come to assist in shutting him down or to let the snowball roll out of control.
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4. Dr. Mundo, The Madman of Zaun
Ever since his rework in 11.12, Dr. Mundo has seen buff after buff after buff. 10 different buffs in that amount of time (3 nerfs in comparison). It’s clear that Riot Games would like to push the newly reworked Dr. Mundo towards the meta, and his win rate shows it’s working.
Dr. Mundo is, like many other champions on this list, a firm beneficiary of the surrounding meta. He’s strong against Poppy, one of the other top-tier champions this patch, and can lane comfortably vs Tahm Kench and Shen as well. His most powerful counter picks remain but a small fraction of the total games played against him, and champions that aren’t able to outright punish him early to gain advantages themselves find that he is a potent frontline later in the game and that he doesn’t lack for damage either against isolated carries.
Feast or famine toplaners will be dismayed to find their kill pressure on Dr. Mundo is not remarkably significant, and his ability to sustain through trades and skirmishes means he will always be able to contribute on the map where other toplaners would have to back away.
5. Poppy, Keeper Of The Hammer
Another strong tank that received buffs on 11.19, Riot’s focus on Poppy was to lower the cooldown of her passive ‘Iron Ambassador’
Cooldown reduced to 13 / 10 / 7 (based on level) from 16 / 12 / 8 (based on level).
Poppy periodically throws her buckler with her next basic attack, which then falls near her target, where it remains for up to 4 seconds. If the buckler kills its target, it bounces back to Poppy automatically. Enemies can step on the buckler to destroy it.
The buckler grants 425 range and 20-180 (based on level) bonus magic damage. When Poppy picks up the buckler, she shields herself for 15 / 17.5 / 20% maximum health for 3 seconds. The cooldown of Iron Ambassador lowers at levels 7 and 13.
While Poppy finds herself in skill-matchups vs meta toplaners like Shen and Tahm Kench and pretty hard-countered by Dr. Mundo, Poppy is otherwise a powerful champion in the current meta vs most team compositions. If you’re able to get a match-up that won’t punish her, she’ll contribute significantly to later-game team fights with her ability to stun enemy champions against walls, block dashes, and remove enemies from the fight completely with her ultimate.
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6. Trundle, The Troll King
Trundle, much like Dr. Mundo and Nasus, has received an 11.21 buff that allows his Q – Chomp to deal with spell effects as well. This makes him another champion who has gained both damage and sustain boost from his ability to proc Divine Sunderer through his most commonly used ability. Otherwise, the Troll King finds himself in much the same position he always does – due to the inherent power of his ultimate R – Subjugate which steals 40% of the target’s armor and magic resistance (as well as doing a good deal of damage) he remains a strong champion into tankier compositions.
If you’ve noticed from this list, or from top lane win-rate tier lists how prevalent tank champions are right now, I’m sure you can figure out how Trundle has found a way into the current meta as well.
7. Ornn, The Fire Below The Mountain
There is certainly a drop-off in raw power between the first half of champions in this list and the second, but I would never count Ornn out. As an incredibly tanky toplaner who somehow can do significant damage, Ornn falls into a niche that LCS caster CaptainFlowers has jokingly referred to as a “tank, mage, support, bruiser, assassin, fighter, DPS, burst Ornn.”
While Ornn isn’t sporting the same big win rates as some of the other teams on this list, his contributions to team compositions in the late game remain unmatched due to his passive Living Forge. The later the game gets, the more Mythics Ornn can upgrade for his team, giving away approximately 1,000 of gold value in stats for each upgrade he delivers.
Not only is Ornn able to level up his champions items for free, but he also provides two potent forms of engage with his E – Searing Charge and his iconic ultimate R – Call Of The Forge God. While he might not be as insanely overpowered as we’ve seen him in the past, Ornn is a champion who will always have a place in the top lane due to the inherent utility of his kit.
Maybe next time, instead of insta-locking Teemo top, you can try one of these overpowered tank top laners instead. Your team and your LP will thank you.